We all know exercising is important for our health and the different benefits that it brings to our bodies. Working out can have a huge impact on your singing technique as well if you choose the right physical activity and if it’s done properly. But what benefits does it have on your singing? Does working out really help you sing better?
The answer is YES!
Working out and exercising can help you become a better singer depending on what exercise you do and the level of intensity. Doing the right exercises can increase your lung capacity which improves breathing techniques and increase cardiovascular endurance to help build vocal stamina. A great workout can improve your singing posture, strengthen high notes, reduce stage anxiety and reduce throat straining when you sing.
I’ve noticed that when I’m exercising regularly, my overall singing condition is much better compared to when I’m not physically active. Though I found that it’s important to be careful with how much I exercise and the intensity I workout at so I can avoid any physical burnout and damage that may be caused to my body
Throughout this post I’ll be talking about how working out helps you sing better, the best time to workout before you sing and the perfect sports to play to improve your singing voice.
Benefits of singing when you exercise
Sing higher notes
Expanding your vocal range requires solid breath support so that the movement of the air can support your voice as you reach those higher notes. When you’re working out, you’re constantly preparing your body to take full breaths and you’ll start breathing harder and faster. As your lung capacity increases, you’ll find that reaching those upper vocal registers will become easier because of the strong breath support helping you to hit those difficult notes.
In addition, working out can reduce levels of anxiety that singers have before singing high notes. As singers try to knock down the barriers and expand their vocal boundaries, it becomes a mental challenge at times. A lot of singers psych themselves out before singing a difficult song because of the stress they get from having to achieve a high note. By exercising and reducing your stress, these mental barriers can be removed.
If you want to learn how to sing higher without straining your voice, I’ve written a detailed guide that you can check out here.
Improve Breathing technique
Training your cardiorespiratory strength can build up your breath stamina for when you’re singing. When I was training for my marathon, I felt that deep breath training really helped me improve my breathing when I sang. I also found that there were many physical similarities with long deep breaths before singing a phrase and breathing for long distance running. I was able to hold notes for a longer time without needing to catch a breath and was able to project notes of a greater tone.
Read Next: 21 Simple Tips on How To Sing Better Quickly
Sing with less strain
Getting a good sweat in also helps you sing with less strain with your voice. Typically strain occurs when your body is tense. This affects the breath support that’s needed to sing properly.
Your throat contains relatively small muscles. If you use these small muscles around your throat to control the air pressures when singing, the stress on the muscles increases which can lead to vocal damage. So by regularly working out, you’re learning how to use airflow to support your voice rather than those small muscles so that you can take away pressure from your throat and larynx no matter how high, low, loud or soft you want to sing.
Increase singing stamina
Working out also trains your body to function under conditions of less oxygen. When I’m singing songs that require a lot of movement, my physical stamina still remains even after singing for a long period of time. There’s also an increase in power and control of your voice, and long phrases will become more effortless.
Beyonce famously revealed one of her key training methods that she had to do was sing her entire album while running at the same time so she could boost her stamina. This way of training can be extremely effective but should be developed slowly.
The best time to exercise before you sing
Exercising the morning before you sing can really give a good boost to your performance. The endorphins will help you feel great on stage and working out will help control and regulate your breathing throughout the day. Try to aim for your workout to be 30-45 minutes and keep it within that time. You don’t want to risk the chance of over exerting and tiring yourself out on show day.
Also, I wouldn’t recommend exercising before you sing because you’ll need enough time to recover from your workout. If you do have any strenuous workouts or activities planned before you go on stage, you should have at least 2 hours of time in between to rest and recover.
If you have to sing in the morning, rather than doing a long workout, you can do a 10 min stretch to release the tensions in your body. Stretching can also assist with regulating your breath and preparing your muscles for your performance.
Recommended sports for better singing
Although being physically active in general helps with improving your voice and breath, there are a few specific sports and exercises that can have a positive impact on your singing development.
This is one of the best exercises that singers can do to improve their overall vocal training. Not only does swimming provide an all round health benefit to your body, it’s also a great way to train your endurance while being in a low oxygen environment. Doing laps in a pool can increase your lung capacity, stretch your throat muscles, strengthen your abdomen and improve your posture.
Personally, after having a nice swim during the day, I’m able to take shallow breaths when I’m singing. This really helps when I need to sing high notes. I’m also able to hold those difficult notes for longer periods of time due to the sharp and deep breaths needed while swimming.
For less rigorous swimming sessions, I sometimes take the time to memorize my lyrics and think about stage banter and things that I can say to the audience. It’s also a good time for me to relax and clear my head from my busy schedule.
Yoga is great for providing mental clarity and improving your pace of breath. I find that doing yoga the day of my performance is perfect because it helps with my posture due to the stretching and controlled breathwork.
If you’re nervous about an upcoming show or experience stage anxiety, yoga can help you calm your nerves and manage your stress. With yoga, you can calmly balance your thoughts and regulate your mood to a more serene state so you can go onstage with the right mindset.
Jogging or running can train your mental focus and also build excellent breath support. I find it’s excellent for calming the mind before big shows. Jogging also trains my mental flexibility, confidence and gives me stress relief. Singers who have stage anxiety will find jogging helpful for that.
One issue that some singers might have with jogging is that it’s not good for those who have leg and joint issues. In that case, swimming is a great alternative for you as it takes pressure off your lower body.
Getting on a bike and riding through the streets is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness while having less stress on joint mobility. It’s perfect for those who have an issue with their knees and can’t run for long periods of time. Cycling is a great aerobic exercise that builds breath stamina, extends your throat, improves posture and coordination, and strengthens your rib muscles.
If you’re not able to find a bicycle or don’t know how to ride one, you can head to a gym and hop on a spin bike for an indoor workout. But make sure not to go too intense if you have to sing on the same day as it can be quite strenuous.
I personally enjoy doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) on the bike to train my breathwork and stamina. I start slow for 1 minute and then, after a minute, I’ll go as hard as I can for 1 minute. I’ll repeat that 1:1 circuit 5 times and that’s my entire workout! This helps me get deep into my breath and strengthen my lung capacity.
Lifting weights is one of the workouts singers have to be careful of, especially when starting out. Doing the exercises properly can lead to positive effects like developing a good singing posture – encourage singing with your body upright to help with projection and looking confident on stage. It also helps you sing from the diaphragm which can build strong vocal endurance and improve your tone.
However, if weightlifting is done incorrectly, it can cause tighter muscles on your shoulders, chest and neck which negatively restricts your singing. Not to mention developing tension patterns in the jaw and throat which can also feel constricting.
Here are some tips you can use when you lift weights so that you can positively help your voice sound better:
- Stretch your muscles properly for 5-10 minutes before you workout to loosen up your muscles. Make sure to do some neck stretches to avoid tightening around that area.
- When you’re lifting, avoid clenching your teeth and tightening the muscles of your neck. This can create tension in and around your throat and promote poor singing patterns. If you’re finding it hard to not clench, try lifting lighter weights but with more repetitions.
- Breathe at a controlled pace when you’re lifting. By doing so, you’re creating good breathing habits that you can use when you sing.
- Aerobic exercise machines like the treadmill, elliptical steps and spin bike are great for heart pumping workouts. For rowing machines, be careful with hunching your shoulders.
- Post workout, don’t forget to stretch and release all the tension in your muscles. Especially your neck and shoulder area. You want to make sure your shoulders are aligned with your neck and head for proper posture.
If you don’t have access to the gym, there are many useful apps and home workout programs that you can use and follow. When I didn’t have access to the gym, I went through programs like P90x and Insanity to squeeze in a good workout in the morning. If you’re more into using fitness apps, Aaptiv creates tailored fitness plans for achieving specific goals. I recommend the “Total Body Training” workout because of the exercises that strengthen the abdomen and improve body posture.
Individual and Team Sports
If running and going to the gym are too boring for you, you can try playing sports to get a good workout while having fun. Team sports like soccer, basketball, hockey and baseball are all good cardiovascular strengthening sports that build breath stamina and training. Though be careful with the physical contact because you don’t want to injure yourself before your gig!
For individual sports, tennis, squash, skating and golf are also good workouts that train the breath and provide good overall fitness.
Working out is an excellent way to help you sing better and boost your fitness. As singers, we sometimes forget how important our overall body condition impacts the way we project our voice. Every time we sing, it’s a whole body experience – not just vocal. So go out there and start getting your body moving. Start working out to get your voice in tip top shape!
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